Dan S. Wang on Thu, 5 Aug 2004 00:36:41 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops

I always thought of sweatshops as a creation of the American South. Maybe
that's because I grew up in the seventies with the film Norma Rae being my
first introduction to the world of textile mills. But according to
Encyclopaedia Britannica, the term is derived from the verb "to sweat," used
as a descriptive management technique in the factories of 1850s England.
"Sweating" the workers became common in the US, the entry goes on to say, in
the 1880s with the arrival of large numbers of eastern and southern European
immigrants. Talking about Manhatten garment shops, probably.

So I think you're right, John. The term doesn't seem to have any particular
geographical or national identity embedded within it. Rather, it seems that
it is a term that becomes applicable whenever and wherever the conditions of
industrialization and the power of employers together make the super
exploitation of laborers possible. I think I even remember some sound byte
from a radio show or some media piece somewhere asking the question of
whether China is now the "world's sweatshop." Which right away implies, even
in popular usage, that sweatshops are not new, and haven't always been Asian
or even Third World.

Dan w.

> Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2004 17:11:51 -0700
> From: John <3v1l.hax0r@gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops
> "A sweatshop is a factory, usually in a developing or Third World
> country and especially in Asia, where people work for a very small
> wage, producing products such as clothes, toys, shoes, and other
> consumer goods."

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